Happy ambassadors: Interior Dynamics; T-Mobile's construction builders
Danitsja Huisman and Esther Andriessen are two enthusiastic T-Mobile employees, working in ‘construction & maintenance’ for the Retail division. Their work mainly consists of building, decorating and furnishing shops, which can be rather complex. In the end, all shops have to exude T-Mobile’s brand identity, so everything has to be on brand. We’ve had the honour of working with them quite often, but who are they and what makes them tick? What do they want to accomplish? In this story, we take a look behind the scenes at T-Mobile.
This network operator is a young, dynamic company with 123 shops throughout the Netherlands. The task of the Retail division is to make sure that all shops look the part and provide the best possible setting to answer all customer questions. T-Mobile has 3 different shop concepts, which can be found all across the country and help the company fulfil its promise of being accessible for all, whenever, wherever, in addition to its online and telesales channels.
All the operator’s shops are regularly scrutinised: is the shop still in the right location? Are the furnishings still in order or is an update needed? What are the latest market developments? Danitsja and Esther are responsible for relocating, converting, or building entirely new shops, which requires mastery in several different fields. To get where they are today, the two ladies had to rely on their rich background of training and experience.
Danitsja has a background in Fashion and Retail. “In those industries, something new happens every day. They’re very dynamic and require a highly commercial and conceptual approach. Every day, we work with design, decoration and creation, a combination that really appeals to me. I’ve also started to learn that tapping into our experience can be very valuable for what we do at T-Mobile. Increasingly often, we find ourselves blazing a trail, going beyond what is ‘standard’. Just like in Retail, this is a fast-paced environment in which you constantly want to amaze and surprise customers. As a result, every new project is a great opportunity to outdo yourself. A big plus is that I get to work with Esther. We’re a real team of two and work very well together. Every project starts as a blank slate, but you’re not done until you’ve fleshed it out in careful detail. And it just so happens that we love working together.”
Esther took a slightly different path, although they appeared to be heading in the same direction at first. “We did the same graphic design course, but I moved on to photography afterwards. I then studied Facility Management, before specialising in furnishing and decoration. My background in Facility Management is very helpful in what I do now. Every now and again, we run into technical issues, as our job description goes beyond just designing the shops: we have to coordinate the entire construction process. Fortunately, Danitsja and I make a great team. We complement each other perfectly and work with a good team of subcontractors.
Furnishing and decorating a shop properly might sound easier than it really is. Danitsja explains: “You always start with the vision. T-Mobile believes that everyone should always have access to the Internet and to each other no matter where they are. T-Mobile is ‘being connected.’ On top of that, T-Mobile is also sustainable, and ‘green’ is very important to us. In developing a design, we have to strike a balance between sticking to the recognisable T-Mobile brand and including a ‘wow’ factor at the same time. We always try to incorporate a unique, quirky element into our designs. Cool eye-catchers that evoke the T-Mobile spirit, that’s what we want. Take our shop in Utrecht, for instance, which features a massive cell tower that reaches all the way from the ground floor to the roof of the building. That tower represents our aim to ‘stay connected’, and the screens in the shops reflect the same feeling. We also work with a lot of big visuals, such as a black and white visual of the city in question to create a sense of recognition.”
Esther continues: “It’s also very important to take the space you’re decorating into consideration. We always look at it from different perspectives. If you’re thinking of installing a full cell tower, you’ll need a large room, after all. In dark rooms, such as our shop in Leidschendam, we work with lots of magenta LED lights.”
It’s a very involved process. “After we’ve established a general direction, we start working on the actual design. We then set the budgets and contact all the necessary vendors for all sorts of elements, ranging from IT, furniture and the HVAC system to electrics and, of course, greenery. Next, we draw up a schedule and move to the implementation phase, which involves visiting the construction site and making changes where necessary. At the end of the project, we run through the entire process one more time with the contractor and the shop manager, before opening the shop. And after the opening, maintenance starts. As you can see, it’s all quite intricate and involved”, Danishja concludes.
Esther agrees, but stresses that she relishes the challenges. “It’s all about the process, which starts on Pinterest and ends with a brick & mortar store. We love the whole process, from the initial idea and the design to the execution and completion of our plans. We couldn’t do it without our excellent vendors and suppliers. We want our vendors and suppliers to deliver quality products and services and to be involved in the process: we like people with a can-do attitude.
Danitsja continues: “We particularly enjoy working with parties who want to be involved in the entire process, contributing their ideas about the furniture, the lights and the plants. Everyone has their own expertise. It's all craft. For us, the process begins by collecting all sorts of pictures, before exploring which products fit in with the ideas we have in mind and how we can make them. We always try to do something a little bit ‘different’ and just make it happen. That’s my favourite part. I love brainstorming sessions, trying to find something surprisingly and amazingly creative, and then translating the outcome into a real process.”
Most T-Mobile shops are designed to be pretty sleek, so we wanted to make them more dynamic. We wanted to add more shapes and evoke a more 3-dimensional, vibrant look and feel. Departing slightly from this sleek style creates a more homely vibe and makes our shops more comfortable for our employees, as well as our customers. Danitsja adds: “we were looking for something to counterbalance the straight, sleek whiteness of our designs, a touch of warmth. Black glass and leather feature heavily in our more luxurious shops, and greenery contrasts nicely with these materials, providing extra depth and variation. Besides, green matches well with magenta, creating a striking, yet pleasing look. Adding greenery to our offices, which are no less sleek than our shops, was a great idea. Doing so created a sense of tranquillity and vibrancy at the same time.”
Esther and Danitsja couldn’t agree more about The Silk Company: “Every shop TSC worked on has turned out amazing. It’s all tailor-made and Martijn is involved in each and every assignment to help us find the best possible solution. He’ll often come up with a few suggestions and we’ll share our thoughts as well,” Esther explains. Danitsja, beaming, concludes: “The Silk Company is very versatile and dynamic and demonstrates great leadership. It’s one of the reasons we love working with smaller businesses. Martijn knows exactly when to make his voice heard and won’t just accept everything we say, and we can only appreciate his attitude. TSC is really valuable to us and they have wonderful products. We’re big fans of The Silk Company, there’s no two ways about it, and we know that Martijn, secretly, is a fan of ours too.”
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